Abigail King

What We Learned

In the woods on the mountain we learned that red

tailed squirrels clack
like angry
monkeys when provoked.
We learned

we are confused.

We learned that the interdependence of roots and rocks
becomes frank, visible, in extreme vertical landscapes,
and that interdependence is considered wholesome,
while co-dependence is not.

We learned! Confusion
in matters of direction and
right gear might
be less scary than
confusion in matters
of the heart.
We learned the sun—

set’s reflection on the ferny hilltops is more
fragile and lovely than the sunset
itself. We

learned that fear of losing
friendship can freeze
your mouth, make a throat
impassible, a word-
drowning crevasse. We learned

that bourbon makes you brave, but we already knew that.
We learned that cynics used to harangue crowds.

We learned that closeness is not
the same as love, or is it? We learned

that one of us is capable of maintaining infatuation longer
than the other. We learned that we are good

at sharing nuts and fruit. We

learned that you can want nothing and too much
in the same gasp.

We learned there are safe, warm huts you can sleep in
and that small-legged dogs can climb and

always pack a hat

and that the layers of love
myelin, cocoon

our auras like fuzzy force fields,
get shaved

by the smallest inattentions.
The squirrel is angry about it, but the rocks
and roots don’t care; we, steeped

in our solitudes,

twin pickles with divergent dreams,

to try, try, to notice.


Baby, Baby, Baby

Wife rhymes with strife,
so I‘m never getting married again.
I’ll call my lover my lover. Promises, promises—
let’s stick with doing what we say we’ll do,
like meeting for Ethiopian at 6 before the film.
I’d like to tear a piece of sopping injera from the
big disc and feed it to your mouth, hoping
you’ll lick the sauce from my fingers
with your warm perfect tongue.
The waiter watches soccer while his daughter croons
a pop song to her babydoll—Baby, baby, baby;
the whole room benignly disinterested in us,
our dripping chins, our goofy love.


Us and Them

I want to get inside the mind of a pelican and feel the decision to dive. I want to dip my wing into blue lift of wave. I want to soar for yard upon nautical yard, above the meniscus, watching what moves beneath me, feeling spray on my fish-hungry belly. I want to taste the fish like the pelican tastes it, scales and skin, bright flesh in a saltwater soup.

Quiero entrar en la mente de un pelícano y sentir la decisión de bucear. Quiero sumergir mi ala en la elevación de la ola azul. Quiero planar por metros sin fin por encima del menisco, observando lo que se mueve debajo de mí, sintiendo rocío en mi vientre hambriento de peces. Quiero probar el pescado como lo hace el pelícano, las escamas y la piel, carne brillante en una sopa de agua salada.


Donut Poem #1

If you’ve ever bitten into something and been disappointed
there’s no softness, no sugary semi-liquidity inside,
and you are my sister,
blame the jelly donut.

If you are me,
blame the Bavarian cream.

As for the other disappointments and missing things,
what’s not correct, what’s broken, what’s sabotaged,
what’s shriveled, what’s dead—these are not the fault
of donuts of any flavor.

The grackle is not upset that it is not a songbird.
The songbird doesn’t wish to be a hawk.

The missing perfection hides in a nest built of Kryptonite threads.
The shriveled angel huddles within dense cake, biting her way out.


Abigail King

That feeling of being at the ocean, near the edge of the world. The way the wind cleans your mind.

Decades later, troubled by the speed of time, a return to the practice of quiet sitting.

It is a return to that which cannot be mitigated. A reconnection. An acknowledgement of the void. A delightful surprise. A resignation.

Some feel spoken to by god. My children get snarky about this. But if you sit quietly for a while, what will you hear?

New to sharing my work, I am deeply grateful to Leaping Clear for this platform.

Other recent poems have appeared in Burningword Literary Journal and The Atticus Review.

More on Abigail King’s work can be found on our Links page.

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